Required Reading for Conservatives

What should conservatives be reading this summer? Well, that depends, mainly on your own interests. But if you could use a little guidance, perhaps I, as editor of Conservative Book Club, may be of service.

The following list of books-most recently published, some about to be-are organized according to a few rough categories. Each book is available at attractive discounts from the Club, and also from the HUMAN EVENTS Book Service (

Liberals and the War on Terror

In her stunning follow-up to last year’s bestselling Slander, Ann Coulter once again minces no words-only liberals.

“Liberals have a preternatural gift for striking a position on the side of treason,” she writes in Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism. “You could be talking about Scrabble and they would instantly leap to the anti-American position. Everyone says liberals love America, too. No they don’t. Whenever the nation is under attack, from within or without, liberals side with the enemy. This is their essence.”

Coulter contends that liberals have stood with the enemies of American interests in every major crisis from the fight against Communism to today’s war on terrorism. Re-examining the 60-year history of the Cold War and beyond-including the career of Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R.-Wis.), the Hiss-Chambers affair, Ronald Reagan’s face-off with Mikhail Gorbachev, the Gulf War, the Clinton impeachment, and Operation Iraqi Freedom-Coulter reveals the Left’s shameful record of blindness to, and active cooperation with, the forces of totalitarianism and terror.

“Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America,” writes Coulter. “They are either traitors or idiots, and on the matter of America’s self-preservation, the difference is irrelevant.”

Foreign Policy

“On major strategic and international questions today, Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus,” contends Robert Kagan in Of Paradise and Power. While the United States remains “mired in history,” exercising power in a world where security and liberty still depend on the possession and use of military might, Europe has passed into a “post-historical paradise” where peace and prosperity can be secured through laws and rules and negotiations-an illusion made possible, ironically, only by the umbrella of American power.

What is the source of these differing strategic perspectives? In this expansion of his 2002 Policy Review article-which caused a sensation in European and American foreign-policy circles-Kagan makes clear how Europe’s need to escape a bloody past has led to a new set of beliefs about power and threat, while America has perforce evolved into the guarantor of that “post-historical paradise” by dint of its might and global reach.

The Hollywood Left

In Tales from the Left Coast: True Stories of Hollywood’s Stars and Their Outrageous Politics, James Hirsen gives you tale after outrageous tale of Hollywood’s knee-jerk Leftism, laying out telling evidence of how a subtle (and often not-so-subtle) Leftist bias fills today’s movies and TV shows, and following the trail of how a political issue becomes a pet cause of liberal actors and singers.

He also hits liberal luminaries’ loss of touch with reality, highlighted by their ongoing love affair with Fidel Castro, and their fuzzy thinking and hypocrisy on seven favorite causes (including puffing away while leading anti-smoking crusades). More ominously, Hirsen offers disquieting proof that a reverse blacklist is operating in Hollywood today, keeping conservative actors unemployed or afraid to speak their minds.

Political and Social Issues

For the press, so-called racial profiling has become the very hallmark of policing-despite the fact that statistical evidence for such a practice is nonexistent. In truth, writes Heather Mac Donald, the anti-police campaign is the means by which the nation’s elites avoid talking about the stubborn problems of inner-city culture-above all, its greatly elevated rates of criminal behavior.

In Are Cops Racist?, Mac Donald exposes the prevailing account of policing as myth by exposing the cop-bashers’ flagrant misuse of statistics, and by showing how the race industry and the opinion elites routinely impose cookie-cutter stories of racist policing on far more complicated realities. She also shows how the reduction in urban crime has benefited black communities even more dramatically than white neighborhoods-but how attacks on police, spearheaded by the press, have slowed that success and threaten to reverse it.


Just what parents are doing to their children by putting them in regular nonparental day care centers-and the lengths that the day care establishment has gone to keep you from finding out these facts-are thoroughly documented by Brian C. Robertson inDay Care Deception: What the Child Care Establishment Isn’t Telling Us.

One of Robertson’s more alarming revelations: not long before he helped gun down twelve students and a teacher at Columbine High School, Dylan Klebold wrote an essay that depicted Satan opening a day care center in Hell.

Robertson explores how radical feminism, financial pressures, and the elimination of traditional social supports have led to a skyrocketing need for daycare. He documents how the day care establishment (a multimillion dollar lobby with a vested interest in the expansion of subsidized day care services) goes the extra mile to expand its power and silence its critics. Even worse, he explains why, despite the growing body of evidence that shows that day care is bad for kids and their parents, politicians are afraid to take on the day care establishment.


Drawing from her experience as a member of a federal testing board, Diane Ravitch describes in The Language Police how private interest groups are pressuring publishers and state officials to purge textbooks and tests of anything that may be construed as racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive.

“Some of this censorship is trivial, some is ludicrous, and some is breathtaking in its power to dumb down what children learn in school,” writes Ravitch, who supplies reams of colorful examples. One guideline commands textbook authors to acknowledge that the United States was “patterned partially after the League of Five Nations, a union formed by five Iroquois nations.” California has informed publishers not to include references to “unhealthy” foods such as: french fries, coffee, bacon, butter, ketchup and mayonnaise.

One publisher’s set of guidelines says that the ultimate goal of the academic curriculum is “to advance multiculturalism.” Ravitch also shows us how pressure groups have succeeded in large part because of their leverage in two particular states-the largest purchasers of textbooks in the country. Finally, she provides solutions for ending this censorship.


In Liberation’s Children, Kay S. Hymowitz explores the predicament of a generation coming of age in an era after feminism and the sexual revolution. “The same forces that have liberated today’s kids from want, settled life paths, and confining traditions,” she writes, “have also ‘freed’ them from the moral and spiritual guidance that have always come from parents, teachers, and the culture at large.”

Kids are told not to judge, but not what to believe; to embrace all, but not what matters; to choose, but not why or how. “In short, liberation’s children live in a culture that frees the mind and soul by emptying them.” Hymowitz takes us beyond familiar psychobabble about developmental stages and self-esteem, and gives us a unique description of contemporary American culture-how adults teach it, how children receive it, and how it stamps today’s American kids with their unique character.


At its peak, the British Empire governed roughly a quarter of the world’s population, covered about the same proportion of the earth’s land surface, and dominated nearly all its oceans. Yet today it is little more than a reviled memory-even in England, where one BBC website (apparently aimed at schoolchildren) offers this incisive overview of imperial history: “The Empire came to greatness by killing lots of people less sharply armed than themselves and stealing their countries.”

It’s time for a reappraisal, says British historian Niall Fergusson. In Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power, Ferguson shows that, for better or worse, the world we know today is in large measure the product of the British Empire-and that, despite its sins, no organization in history has done more to promote the free movement of goods, capital and labor; and to impose Western norms of law, order and governance. Ferguson also shows that the story of the Empire has many lessons for the world today-in particular for the United States, as it stands on the brink of a new era of imperial power.


From 1929 until the death of Stalin in 1953, some 18 million people passed through the vast system of repression and punishment known simply as the Gulag; an estimated 4.5 million never returned. In Gulag: A History, Anne Applebaum draws on accounts by survivors, archives, and studies made available only since the collapse of the former Soviet Union to chart the inception and development of the Gulag from its origins in the Russian Revolution to its collapse in the era of glasnost (see review on p. 18). She vividly describes daily life in the camps; explains the role that the camps played in the Soviet political system; and reveals the disturbing reasons the Gulag has remained relatively obscure in the historical memory of former Soviet Union and the West.

“If our schools and universities cared about history,” remarks Michael Ledeen in National Review, “Anne Applebaum’s magisterial work. . . would be required reading. . . . because it is only by working their way through the chilling details, year by year and camp by camp, that they can begin to understand the horrors of Communism and the magnitude of our successful war against it.”


The King James Bible can lay claim to be the greatest work in prose ever written in English. But the men who did it were mostly obscure at the time and generally forgotten now. About fifty scholars from Cambridge, Oxford and London did the work, drawing on many previous versions, and created a text which has never been equaled. That is the central question of this book: How did this group of near-anonymous divines, human and flawed as they were, manage to bring off this astonishing translation? How did such ordinary men make such extraordinary prose? In God’s Secretaries, Adam Nicolson gives a fascinating and dramatic account of the scholars who labored for seven years (1604-1611) to create this work, of the influences that shaped them and of the beliefs that colored their world, immersing us in an age whose greatest monument is not a painting or a building, but a book.


When the ambitious go-getter Amanda Bright decides to give up her job at the National Endowment of the Arts to stay home and raise her kids, she is faced with enormous challenges-not the least of which is what to make for dinner.

First there was the shocked reaction from her feminist mother. Then there’s the catty one-upmanship with the other playdate mommies, fueled by afternoon bottles of chardonnay. And now her husband’s a rising star in the U.S. Justice Department-and as he becomes the It-Boy at the glamorous cocktail parties they attend, she seems to become invisible as soon as someone asks, “So what do you do?”

This ruefully funny novel, amandabright@Home, by Danielle Crittenden-mother of three, and wife of conservative author David Frum (The Right Man)-created a sensation when it was serialized by The Wall Street Journal in 2001.

Now, mothers (and fathers) everywhere can laugh and cry along with Amanda as she experiences the daily trials of adjusting to her new life at home-and discovers that success isn’t always measured in the workplace.


The author of the great Preamble to the Constitution and much of the rest of the document was a wealthy, raffish New Yorker who was above all things a loyal son of the American Revolution. Now Richard Brookhiser has revived the memory of this unjustly forgotten Founder in Gentleman Revolutionary: Gouverneur Morris, the Rake Who Wrote the Constitution.

With his peerless flair for breathing dramatic life into events of bygone ages, Brookhiser paints a remarkable picture of Morris and his times. He traces Morris’s life from his early days as a hesitant revolutionary in a family of loyalists through the misfortunes that robbed him of a leg and left him with a withered arm. He includes a vibrant examination of Morris’s key role in the early days of the American Republic, including his adventures at the Constitutional Convention and his tumultuous stint as envoy to France during the French Revolution.


When he was tapped to accompany President Clinton and carry the nuclear “football” that contains the top-secret codes the President needs in case of nuclear war, Colonel Robert “Buzz” Patterson was proud and grateful. But when he entered the Clinton White House, his gratitude and awe soon gave way to shock, revulsion, and sorrow-as he saw first-hand the cavalier and self-serving way Slick Willie and his henchmen went about the business of running the country.

In Dereliction of Duty: An Eyewitness Account of How Bill Clinton Compromised America’s National Security, Patterson tells the whole story. Day in and day out in the Clinton White House, he witnessed the President’s contempt for the military, his indifference to important issues except insofar as they served his own political or personal purposes, and his reduction of the Office of the Presidency to a playground for his own ambition and thirst for sordid perks. And it all led, Patterson argues compellingly, to our armed forces and intelligence services falling into such a demoralized, unprepared state that a disaster was just waiting to happen-which it finally did on Sept. 11, 2001.


Scientific discoveries from the time of Copernicus to the beginning of the twentieth century have led many thoughtful people to the conclusion that the universe has no cause or purpose-that the human race is an accidental by-product of blind material forces, and that the ultimate reality is matter itself.

In Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, Stephen M. Barr, professor of physics at the University of Delaware’s Bartol Research Institute, contends that the revolutionary discoveries of the twentieth century run counter to this line of thought-that, indeed, the great discoveries of modern physics are more compatible with the central teachings of Christianity about God, the cosmos, and the human soul than with the atheistic viewpoint of scientific materialism.

In language that is accessible to lay readers but doesn’t oversimplify, Barr uses five of these discoveries-the Big Bang theory, unified field theories, “anthropic coincidences,” G??¶del’s Theorem in mathematics, and quantum theory-to cast serious doubt on the materialist’s view of the world and to give greater credence to Judeo-Christian claims about God and the universe. He also demonstrates that what is really at war with religion is not science itself, but a philosophy called scientific materialism. National Review’s Josh Gilder calls this “a stunning tour de force of design apologetics.”


The “seven deadly sins” are not to be found in scripture as such, writes Ken Bazyn, but they have been a staple of Christian preaching since the early church. These “root” or “perennial” sins-Pride, Envy, Anger, Avarice, Lust, Gluttony and Sloth-shape much of human behavior, and the evils traceable to them can be multiplied almost indefinitely. Thus, meditating on these seven sins can be one life-long process of purification-for which The Seven Perennial Sins will serve as both inspiration and guide.

Illustrating with examples drawn from Scripture, history, literature and even films, Bazyn (a veteran preacher) offers a “thick description” of each of these sins-then shows how each one breeds its own peculiar “offspring”, from minor foibles to grave violations of the Commandments (e.g., how envy can lead to ingratitude, suspicion, regret at another’s good fortune, sowing of hostility, and even murder). “Please select for yourself, among these historical tales and the literature I’ve quoted, lessons that you feel are helpful and valid; then appropriate them in your own ongoing struggle with temptation.”